What: They talk some sense into eachother, or at least try.
When: After Ziggy meets with Jr.
He knew he should be heading home, however, he stopped at the dock area and looked at the familiar transporter which led to the Foundation. It had been a long time since he had been there, and he decided it couldn't hurt to walk down a familiar street or two before returning to Second Miltia.
The ride there wasn't long, and within a few moments he found himself at the Foundation's dock. He decided he'd walk through sector 26 and 27 for a few moments. After a few minutes of walking, he found himself passing under the bridge. He could see the Ironman Bar and Our Treasure Inn as he approached. The sight brought back several memories of the past year since he had arrived there.
Walking about like this, alone, was dangerous. She'd prefer to be dead to the world. But she'd gotten the name of someone who could make her a fake ID, fabricate an identity for her. She may as well, just to be safe. Her destination not far, she walked the streets briskly, with much more confidence than she had before.
Suddenly, his eyes caught glimpse of a familiar figure walking towards him. He stopped for a moment and took another look, just to make sure it was the person he thought it was. "Maria?" He called.
She didn't miss a beat, just kept walking, trying to lose herself in the crowd. Shit! She knew nothing about stealth. She picked up her pace, but couldn't run. That would give her away.
Ziggy frowned, realizing that something wasn't right. If it was anyone else, he would've let them go. However, she was closely tied to Juli, and in a way, he thought of her like another daughter. He assumed by watching her patterns, that she was trying to avoid him without being noticed. He too, followed suit, also avoiding any attention. It was much easier now that he had a more human body.
Had she lost whoever had recognized her? Idiot! she cursed herself. How could you think you were safe anywhere?
He was approaching her quickly, and within a matter of seconds they'd encounter eachother. He looked around his peripheral vision to see if anyone was paying attention. Noticing that there wasn't, he took a few longer strides. He was right behind her now. In a voice just loud enough for her to hear, or at least he hoped, he spoke up. "Is someone after you?"
"You are," she said.
"Something's wrong." He stated, matter-of-factly,
"Why follow me?" she said quietly. "You don't know me."
He frowned. "I may not know you well... but, that doesn't mean that I'm not concerned."
"You should save yourself, and consider me dead."
"Maria?" He narrowed his eyes at her. "I'm not about to consider another family member dead. I've had enough of that."
"I told you!" she said, whirling around at last. Her voice was a fierce whisper--it ought to sound familiar to him. "Just forget you knew me."
He was taken aback by her reaction, unsure of what caused her to act this way. A year ago, he would've shrugged it off and walked away. It was much easier to deal that way. He was half tempted to turn around at that moment, when a reasoning for her behavior dawned upon him. "It's not... Juli is it?"
"No. It's got nothing to do with her." At least she could give him that much.
He felt a wave of relief wash over him. "Good." He slowed down and considered turning around, leaving her there. Yet, for some reason, he couldn't find it within himself just yet. "I'll leave you alone. But, before I do, I want you to know that... I've had to forget about too many people. You've seen what I've been through. I've seen a glimpse of your past as well. Things like that stay in your memory. However, it's your decision. I can't make you do anything."
Was he trying to make her feel guilty? "Listen, my time's running out. Pretty soon I'll be dead. But trust me--I'm not going down without a fight."
He looked at her again, and then took a step forward, grabbing her wrist. "What are you talking about?"
She didn't like the fact that he'd touched her, detained her. "Nothing."
"Don't say it's nothing. I can tell something's wrong. If you're life's in danger..." A small part of him snapped. Even though he wasn't nearly as close to Maria as he was to MOMO or Juli, the thought of loosing her made him think of loosing Juli. He shook his head, as if he was trying to shake the thoughts.
She laughed. "I'm not the one who's in danger."
He peered at her again, a bit perplexed. "Then who is?"
She leaned close to him, with an almost wicked grin on her face, and whispered. "It's a secret."
He raised a confused eyebrow at her. What's gotten into her? "Maria, are you high again?"
Always. "Trust me. That's not it this time."
He wasn't sure whether to be relieved or worried. "I'm not sure I understand what you mean, but... don't do anything reckless. I don't want to see Juli loose another daughter."
"Daughter?" She laughed, and it was an ironic laugh, almost evil. "Ha! I'm no one's daughter."
He shook his head. "Maria, don't say that. I'm not sure if it means anything to you, but... I consider you to be like a daughter as well."
She stepped back, away. "Don't say that." She looked sad, and scared.
Ziggy continued to stare at her, confused and bewildered by her reactions. "That's why... I want to know if you're all right." He averted his gaze, finally. "I'm only concerned."
Again, she shook her head. "Don't say that. Just--don't think that. It'll be better for both of us."
Her words sounded familiar to him. He opened his mouth to say something, but he quickly closed it, when another thought came to mind. "Maria... I'm not sure if you can completely understand what it's like to have everyone you love taken from you. I spent more than a lifetime forgetting and burring that pain. In all that time, I only wanted one thing, to not feel." He shook his head. "I only realize now, what a mistake that was. I'm probably taking a great risk to be with Juli, but I don't regret it. I... don't regret ever having met you either. But... I realize this is a risk I have to take."
For a long moment she was silent. Then some of her angry facade seemed to slip, and she said, "I know what it feels like."
He fell silent, and then his expression softened. "...It hurts, doesn't it?"
She looked at him with hard eyes. "Like hell."
He nodded, finally understanding her actions. It made too much sense, really. "Listen... Whatever you do. Don't let yourself become a machine, like I did. I... was your age when I lost everything. I know what you're going through. You're still young, and you have a lot ahead of you. If you have to get revenge for what you've lost... do so. But remember, there's people waiting for you to return."
She just gave him a sad smile. "They'll never miss me."
Ziggy shook his head. "You shouldn't allow yourself to think that way. However..." He sighed, speaking of revenge made him think further about Voyager. He knew that he wasn't completely ready to settle down again. "...I wish for revenge as well. But now that I have someone to return to, I need to remember to be careful."
"I never mentioned revenge," she said coolly.
"You didn't, but I can see it in your eyes." He frowned. "You have the eyes of someone who just had someone precious taken from them. I know... because they're the same eyes I saw in my reflection for a hundred years. Voyager... I want to put and end to this, and those who are still alive that are like him, like Yuriev."
The name made her start. "Leave him to me."
Ziggy blinked. "Yuriev?" Then, he remembered her past he had seen in the encephalon. "...Right. But, he's a dangerous man, Maria. This isn't something you can just rush into... even if you knew where he was."
She shook her head. How could she be so stupid as to mention her mark? "Don't talk about this here--out where everyone can hear."
Ziggy nodded towards an alleyway behind the bakery. He remembered it being a well-hidden spot. "Over there?"
He looked around, waiting to see if anyone would follow them. When it looked clear, he walked towards the said alley.
She followed. She'd been down her share of alleys, but had he? No matter. "Do you even know the shit Dmitri Yuriev has pulled?"
"I don't know everything, but... he's a part of my past as well." He frowned.
"He created me, you know. And I'm sure you know why."
He nodded. "Yes. But... from the looks of things, I'm sure that's not the only reason why you want to go after him."
"There are a hundred reasons why. Only one concerns you."
He raised an eyebrow. "...Voyager's relation to him?"
"No," she said shortly.
He peered at her as his intuition told him that something was wrong. "...Juli?" He blinked. "Did he... do something to her?"
She let out a short, ironic laugh. "You don't want to know."
Ziggy stared at her, and then put his hand on her shoulder. "Maria, I plan on marrying this woman. If he did anything to her..." He took a deep breath and then his voice dropped, staring her in the eyes. "I think I have the right to know. Please, tell me."
"Trust me, if you didn't know, it would be better."
His grip on her shoulder tightened. "Tell me, Maria. What did that bastard do to her?" He couldn't help but raise his voice a little. He felt himself beginning to panic. He knew it had to be something bad.
"God damn it!" she said. "I shouldn't even know! I don't know why she told me all this shit! I'm not here to keep her secrets! Ask her yourself!"
He let his arm drop and he looked down at the pavement below. "...I'm Sorry."
"It's sick." She put a hand on her now-freed shoulder. "It's disgusting." She paused. "And she'll never tell you."
He began to feel weak in his knees. He didn't want to know, but at the same time, he knew that he needed to. He didn't look up at her, fearing the worst. "...He didn't... did he?" The words barely escaped his lips, and they were unsteadily at that.
"He never ended up needing me." She laughed. "He got the real thing! Who needs Plan B anymore?"
He started to tremble slightly, and then he sunk to his knees. "...I should have known." He looked at his hands, which were now shaking. "I should've known when you said that before... I-" Ziggy shook his head, it was almost too much to take in.
"It wasn't like she wanted to," Maria said. "She didn't get a choice. We women are nothing but merchandise."
"Damn it!" He murmured, clenching his fists. "Damn it!" This time he shouted, pounding his left fist into into the pavement. He forgot for a moment that he no longer had a metal hand that could easily punch hard surfaces. Though at the moment, he didn't care. He hit it again, not noticing that his knuckles were bleeding. Then, another time for good measure. "Fucking damn it!"
"Stop it! You act like she's the only woman it's ever happened to! Women are nothing but objects. I know that all too well."
He looked up at her, knuckles stinging. "Maria..." He wasn't sure what he could say in the situation. There was nothing that could ease any of the pain for either of them, and he knew it. Unsteadily, he rose to his feet again. He opened his mouth to say something, but no words could come out.
Maria closed her eyes. "She can forgive him. I can't."
"He's going to die for what he did to both of you." He said.
She nodded. "Of course he is."
He nodded at her in response. Then, he did something he didn't think he would do under any other circumstance. He took a step closer to her, and pulled her into a hug. "God, why...?" First, his wife and son, then MOMO, Juli and Maria. "Make them pay, Maria. If... you don't think you can do it alone. I'll help you."
She had promised she'd close herself off to affection, but maybe just this last time. "He'll probably take me down with him. I'm prepared."
"No!" He shook his head. "I'm not going to stand by and let it happen. He's hurt all of us too much."
"I don't care," she said stubbornly.
He pulled away, and let his hands drop to his side. Blood was still dripping from the gashes on his left hand, but he didn't care. "Well, I do. For once, I do care what happens."
"Then do this." She looked up at him, her eyes almost pleading. "Go back and be with her. Just stay with her. Make a new life for yourselves. You still have time. Get married, have a baby, anything. Just be happy."
He felt his shaking subside, and his shoulders slumped. Here he was, just a few minutes prior, giving her advice. Yet, he couldn't even take his own. As always, he wasn't thinking about what was truly important. He found himself relying on people to remind him of this far too much. "Maria..." He looked her in the eyes. "I will. I'll... I'll make Juli happy. Not just for her, but for you as well."
"Thanks." She didn't even have a smile to offer. "As for me--don't mourn me."
He didn't respond. He just looked at her, with a hint of sadness in his eyes. How could he not mourn her if something happened?
She looked at him. "I'm ready."
"Take care of yourself, Maria. And... be strong. I have faith in you." He closed his eyes, feeling his heart sink.
"Thanks." She turned on her heel, and disappeared around the corner without looking back.
He looked up, as he heard her footsteps leave his presence. "Goodbye, Maria Niwashiro." He whispered to himself, hoping that maybe he would see her again. Though, he knew very well that expecting the worst was somehow less painful in the end.